The airline with the best average rating is Virgin America with 8.0/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 20 minutes.More information
Greeting Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I've always been intrigued by Cathay Pacific's "fifth freedom" route between JFK-YVR. The Avgeek community has long declared the flight as the best way to cross North America. (The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline's own country.) I've had my eye on award availability on this flight from time to time. I even had it booked all the way to HKG a while back but a series of events led me to cancel. The combination of free time, award availability, and sufficient points balances all converged to allow me to fly the route. I booked with BA Avios as that was the currency I had available and a transfer bonus form AMEX padded the balance. Now that news of the service ending has come out I'm glad I checked it out when I did.
Positioning to JFK was the next decision. My ideal was to try JetBlue Mint for the first time but the fares were not within my budget. I turned to American Airlines as I was well stocked with gift cards from various credit card "incidental credits". (So bummed that loophole has been closed.) I saw an AA J fare on the day I needed for $649.00, which is as low as I have seen. Not one to leave well enough alone I upgraded the fare to F with $150.00 and 15,000 AA miles. An extravagant airplane ticket indeed but I rationalized good value as the price was still less than J on JetBlue, UA, or DL.
I had a day in New York to fill so I decided to catch a Yankee game at the new (to me) ballpark and also have a look around the TWA Hotel. Please visit the tourist bonus if you're so inclined.
I had to go into work in the morning but made my escape as soon as I was able. I arrived at LAX via Uber at around 11:00, sufficiently early to leisurely lounge hop my way around Terminal 4 and TBIT. I took advantage of the AA Flagship First Check in lounge and direct path to the pre-check line. I wasn't offered an escort today, as I have in the past.
Once airside I decided to start the party at the AA Flagship Lounge with the excellent Flagship First Dining.
I was greeted by Jocelyn, an gracious host, and shown to my favorite table. I sensed a sense of relief from Jocelyn when I arrived in the dining room as now she had something to do! I was the only guest at the time. The view tables are on the east side of the lounge.
I'm still getting used to the idea that I can request a glass of Krug Grand Cuvee at an American Airlines lounge but I formed the words and Jocelyn returned with a perfectly chilled glass of champagne in a handsome piece of stemware.
I reviewed the menu and drinks list, the former having been rotated since my last visit in early May.
I requested the chilled Maine lobster to begin. The basil 3 ways came in the form of basil seeds, torn basil leaves, and basil oil. Overall the dish was nice with good texture on the shellfish, sweet tomatoes, and rich cheese. It's a great concept for this environment in that it can be prepared in advance and quickly assembled to order while retaining an upscale feel. The portion was a bit large for my liking but AA is "American" all the way through.
This is a marathon and not a sprint so I opted for another light-ish dish in the form of the onion soup. It was a flavorful consommé style broth and a freshly toasted crouton.
A couple of other patrons arrived while I was in the dining room. A dead ringer for John Waters sat directly across from me on the opposite side of the room and after much deliberation I decided it wasn't him. He had the eccentric Hollywood look and knew everyone on staff so he's clearly a regular. Comically enough he and I would be the only guests in the JFK Flagship First Dining facility the following morning as we were here at LAX for a time. I was also treated to "loud record producer guy" yelling on his cell phone and cussing about how an artist was overproduced and f*%ked up the whole project. He might have had cocaine for lunch.
I enjoyed an espresso before bidding Jocelyn adieu.
Lounge hopping and walking about the airport are two of my favorite activities and I was in a great positon to enjoy both with the AA F boarding pass. I strolled over to TBIT from terminal 4. LAX has a great range of airlines and aircraft to admire.
My stroll through the TBIT landed me at the always enjoyable Qantas First Lounge.
I wasn't entirely certain that the AA transcontinental first boarding pass would be sufficient to gain access as I encountered contradictory information online. It appears that there was a time that QF were not applying the access rules consistently however that seems to have been resolved as I was admitted without hesitation.
The lounge is not very busy at this hour as it's in between the JAL Japan and AA Asia departures and before the afternoon/evening BA/QF/AA stuff. I was shown a seat of my choosing and selected the bar.
The Summer menu is as follows. The rotation here is rather subtle as Neil's staples are always on the menu, regardless of season, and I can imagine some unhappy campers is that were to change. He's a victim of his popularity in a sense, if you count celebrity and wealth as conditions of victimhood…
The summer sour starts off the visit, along with the ever present friend, water.
I might be counted among those who revolt if the salt and pepper squid were not on the menu. I started there and added the side of chips. Such a fantastic treat. I am so impressed by the consistency of the kitchen staff.
Banana tart with dulce de leche, pretzel praline and ice cream jumped off the page to me as if we were meant to interact on this day. I'm not one to argue with fate. It looks like something you would make for a child or even as if a child had assembled it but the flavors were excellent and the mix of textures played well too.
The lounge remained quiet for the duration of my stay.
There was a contingent of BA passengers as they have a 16:00ish departure to LHR.
After lounging with a cappuccino it was time to stroll back to T4 for boarding. This AA 787 was pushing back as I was in the T4/TBIT connector.
I boarded with group 1 and made my way to seat 5A. Seat 4A was the only empty seat in the cabin…for now…
Picture of 4A.
At the seat was a water bottle, menu, amenity kit and Bang & Olufsen headphones.
Casper pillow and blanket.
The purser, who's name I will omit due to events later in the flight, was busy working the aisle offering drinks and greetings. She had a wonderful way about her welcoming others that were boarding in between greeting the first class passengers. She made her way back to me and I requested Champagne for a PDB.
View from five alpha.
We were off the gate pretty much on time and had a short taxi to 25R.
The screen nearest my seat refused to close after the safety video was screened.
The coastal marine layer was encroaching on LAX as we departed.
Departure to the southwest and then a gradual turn to the northeast took us around pacific palisades and past the ports of Long Beach and San Pedro, past Long Beach itself including Belmont shores and Los Alamitos. We didn't cross over to land again until Huntington Beach.
Excellent headphones but unfortunately you can't use them for the entire flight as they are, rather ridiculously and patronizingly, collected with about 45min. - 1 hour remaining in flight.
The dinner and drinks menu tonight.
Zero lav amenities.
Service started with an offer of a drink. Oddly the junior flight attendant also set the tables at this time. I would prefer a bit of time to enjoy a cocktail before the table is deployed but oh no.
DIY gin and tonic served with warm nuts and olives.
A little light on the olives.
The remainder of the table was laid during cocktail time. Love the map on the handset.
I remain utterly baffled by what American lists as "small plates" on the menu. The beats and goat cheese was a main course portion. It's a beautiful looking dish and everything was well executed but the word small has no business in relation to this dish.
I opted to enjoy soup next: tomato and lentil with grilled cheese crouton. Again, a mighty portion.
On to my third main course now, the lovely salad with hearts of palm and tarragon lemon dressing. Why so much???
I pre-ordered the beef for some reason that I could not reconcile and it was by far the weakest dish of the lot. The fillet was overcooked, of course, but an even worse affront was the potato covered in lentils. There were several leaves on the plate as well for no known reason. the Napa Merlot was nice enough.
Some cheese and port to finish. I do appreciate the presentation and generous pour of the wine it's a really sad plate of processed cheeses.
The meal is cleared and I enjoy the sunset views over Kansas.
As the purser asks if there is anything I need now she is somewhat interrupted by one of her colleagues from another cabin. I don't make out what the colleague says but the purser's reply is, "you can bring her up, very discreetly." After her collogue leaves I ask if a passenger has fallen ill and needs a place to lay down. I'm fishing for information of course and I got it. The purser goes on to tell me that a couple traveling on the flight had a bit of an argument after the male decided to tell the female (boyfriend/girlfriend is the arrangement she described) that he had been unfaithful to her. Alrighty then. All I could reply was oh dear. So, 4A was vacant no more as a sobbing young lady moved in.
The purser was extraordinarily generous to this passenger. She must have daughters herself as she offered some reassuring language and an ear. It was a great glimpse into humanity that we don't get to see enough of in our world, that this, presumably, stranger had a place to get away and a kind soul to confide in. The purser went so far as to offer her a hotel room in New York. One of the crew lived in New York and just went home on their layover meaning there was an extra crew room in the hotel. I was astonished by the generosity. I don't know if she accepted the offer. I put my headphones on and tried to tune out the drama in front of me. It was difficult at times as seemingly every, female at least, member of the crew felt the need to visit her and provide support. I think they were really just serving to remind her of her situation repeatedly. I'm confident it was all coming from a good place but please, enough already. She regains her composure and someone else stops by to hug her and make her cry again.
This situation led me down all sorts of paths as to whether this was a non-rev, a family member of crew perhaps, but various tidbits gave me conflicting opinions. I have no way of knowing for sure. She sat in the jump seat up front for a period of time and they gave her a bottle of wine, hallmark non-rev treatment. I don't' think their handling of the passenger is any more or less professional based on whether she was a revenue customer or not. I believe it was purely human compassion driving their decisions and actions. In the end I'm thankful there wasn't a more serious incident necessitating a diversion or intervention from fellow passengers.
I opted to setup the bed and rest for a while.
Our route took up up by Cleveland and then down and into JFK.
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The morning after arrival I took the hotel shuttle to the airport, had breakfast, walked around the hotel and then took the train to Yankee Stadium.
I was not a guest at the TWA Hotel so I cannot comment on that experience but I'll share some photos of the public areas I visited. I was really impressed with he renovation and look & feel of the property. The pictures are out of order as I am unable to order them using the "Gallery" tool.
I have visited Citi Field and old Yankee Stadium so I had to drop in to check out the new one. It's a fine stadium and it's obvious efforts were made to retain some of the style of the old ballpark while providing modern amenities.
The Ground Service: American has true First Class service where you are met at the vehicle and your luggage, if needed, is taken by trolley to the check in lounge. Quick access is afforded to the TSA pre-check line.
The Lounge: I've opined on the AA Flagship First Dining several times now and it really is a strong feature. The food is not extraordinary but there is generally something to enjoy, The cocktails and Krug are top notch as well. Today the service was prompt, fun, and friendly as well. I'm also a fan of the Qantas First Lounge. The Qantas lounge offers generally superior food and service but suffers from crowding at times. The AA lounge is superior in terms of peace and quiet as well as Champagne and cocktails.
The Cabin: Privacy, space, and direct aisle access all make for an exceptional experience. The 10 passenger cabin is also intimate and quiet (normally).
The Crew: the service prior to the episode of The Bachelorette was fair to good. I went back and forth on the incident and whether it's appropriate to disrupt the premium passengers for a girlfriend and boyfriend spat. I choose to believe everyone was operating form their hearts and trying to be as helpful as possible. I'm really interested in the readers' thoughts on the matter.
The Food and Beverage: AA needs to examine their portions. They must waste a ton of food as much of it goes back uneaten. Today there were successful dishes in with the beets, soup, and salad while the main and cheese were rather poor. The wine and cocktails are rather uninspired as well.
Overall: This trip, in this direction especially, it's all about the lounges. They are some of the best in the USA. As far as first class on board I'm not sure if it's differentiated enough from business class to be worth the premium.
Thank you very much for reading and happy flying.